House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MA: Haunting & Hawthorne

A visit to Salem is pretty high up on my bucket list. It falls just above taking the Jack the Ripper tour in England and just below visiting the Mutter Museum in Pennsylvania. The history of old Salem is definitely a draw for me, but I’m also fascinated by the touristy side of new Salem. Some compare it to a witchy sort of theme park, filled with out-of-towners and people swathed in robes and pointy hats. Some might find the commercialization of Salem quite sad, but truthfully it makes me want to visit even more. It seems to me as if this side of Salem has become a way of life for those who reside there, embracing the past and creating a new future. But there are some structures that retain their history and their ghosts.

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Built in 1667, the House of the Seven Gables is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England. The house is now a museum, but has undergone renovations by the Turner and Ingersoll families that resided within it. For this reason, it is often referred to as the Turner-Ingersoll mansion. Susan Ingersoll, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s cousin, resided in the house until she died at the age of 72 and he visited her quite often. The house was the inspiration for his novel of the same name.

Visitors to the mansion report the house to be quite active, particularly on the attic staircase. Some claim to feel dizzy or lightheaded as they ascend the stairs while others feel an oppressive force pushing down on them. It has also been reported that there is a sensation of being pushed backwards, as if something is forcing them out of the attic. Susan Ingersoll’s ghost has also been spotted in the windows of the house and people have seen her specter wandering the halls. An apparition of a little boy has been seen playing in the attic. Other experiences include:

  • Cold spots.
  • Being touched by unseen hands.
  • Hearing screams.
  • Hearing deep growling sounds.
  • Malfunctioning water taps and electricity (turning off and on by themselves.)
  • While outside, some have said they heard someone tapping on the windows as if trying to get their attention.

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Tours of the location last roughly 30-40 minutes and, it seems to me, that given the activity at the location there’s practically a guarantee you’ll experience something during your visit.

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Have you visited the House of the Seven Gables? Did you have an experience there that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.

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